Hindsight, overall, is a beautiful thing.
In the last 7 months, my life, and how I perceive life, has changed entirely, and not because of happenstance. Because at every breaking point, at every moment of low or high, and every opportune second to be grateful for the fact that I live, breathe, and exist, I took it. I sat in it. I let myself feel. And as a result, I grew. I evolved into a person I wouldn’t recognize a year ago, and I was able to ascertain, just what it was in life that drove me forward. Like so many of you, this is a multitude of things. Purpose. Instinct. Passion. Love. Opportunity. Adventure. Survival. All things that have opened, and closed, many doors along the way, but for every red light I hit, there has been a green light sending me another direction, and for this, I immensely thankful, because regardless of what a lot of people might tell you, finding your path, is not an easy feat.
It is why so many don’t choose to chase their stars. And me? Well, I saw a fleeting chance, and I took it…thus, here we are. So for those of you who don’t know my story, here it is.
This last spring, due to reasons beyond my control, I had to walk away from a job I loved, which catalyzed a pivotal examination of just what in the heck I wanted to do with my life. In 2019 I got divorced, swiftly followed by a pandemic which put everyone’s life on hold, and as soon as the dust settled, I fell in love with adventure motorcycle riding. I got a job working with a touring company and truly believed it would be the centerpiece of my existence for the indefinite future.
Sadly, however, I was mistaken, and consequently in June of 2022, I sold almost everything I owned, threw my animals in the back of my CRV, hitched a trailer with my motorcycle and few remaining possessions to the car, and drove to my parents property in Missouri. I was still extremely physically debilitated from a really rough crash in June, barely able to lift anything above my head due to a hairline fracture in my left scapula, as well as limited mobility and constant pain from badly sprained ribs, but I got to St. Louis, settled my dogs in with my parents, and packed my bike to hit the road with my friend Alex Chacon after Revzilla’s ADV Fest in Sturgis, with the hope of figuring out if road life truly was the life for me.
Turns out, it was.
Alex and I spent nearly 9 weeks on the road together, a trip that I know changed both our lives in so many incredible ways. We ventured through the black hills of South Dakota, explored Yellowstone National Park, stood in awe beneath the Tetons, felt our hearts beat fast on every twist and turn of Beartooth Pass, greatly admired the majesty of Glacier National Park, crossed the border into Canada, rode the Icefields Parkway amongst the magnificence of Banff and Jasper National Parks, and then trekked south, back to Oregon, to the desert, and to the end of an incredible two month journey.
While I left Lorraine in Bend for repairs, I returned to St. Louis sleep deprived and in desperate need of snuggles with my pups. I didn’t waste any time. I acquired a Sony A7Siii, got a new suspension and tires put on Lorraine, and began to plan my first solo trek down the west coast of the US. It was an expedition I was undeniably nervous for, because unlike my initial adventure, I was alone – no partner in crime, no best friend if things went sideways, no one to rely on, other than myself, and while divorce had taught me how to survive, my goal wasn’t just to get through it. I wanted to thrive. I wanted to experience. I wanted to find what had been calling me to the road.
Once I made it back to Bend, I hopped on Lorraine and made my way north to Vancouver, Canada, where I would begin a journey along the Highway 101 and 1 along the coast of the western US, a trip from border to border with the intention of learning just what it takes to endure, create, and be immersed in the environment around me. I experienced a vast array of highs and lows, dealt with the panic and relief of replacing a broken camera body, acquired cellulitis and consequently went on antibiotics for treatment, and was exposed to every type of weather from freezing fog, sleet, and 40 mph winds to sunshine, rainbows, and bluebird skies. I also got to gape at the beauty of Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park, feel the cool ocean breeze of the moody Oregon coastline from a cliff top, sleep amongst the redwoods in northern California, watch surfers catch their morning waves in Santa Cruz as the sun came up, and thoroughly enjoy the highway 1 through Big Sur down to Santa Monica, by far one of the most memorable rides of my life.
From there, I spent some time camping in Joshua Tree and around the Southern California deserts before I made my way to Julia, CA to compete in the Geico ADV Rally with an all-female, motley crew of adv riders and collaborate on a project focusing on women in the motorcycle world. We had sponsorships from Alpinestars, Sena, Ecoflow, and last but not least, Harley Davidson Pan America, who lent us four 2021 PanAms to ride in the rally. It was, without a doubt, the best possible way to conclude my trip, and to our own surprise, our team, aptly named TrashPanda Adv, won the industry division against the odds. I left Julian happier than I’d felt in years. The pieces felt like they were at last coming together.
In the end, I did discover what called me out here. I found not only what I am good at, but also, my purpose as a storyteller. I found friends in places I didn’t expect. I found confidence in my capabilities as a rider and a solo female traveler. I found love. I found joy. I found the light at the end of the tunnel I had been searching for, yet by no means do I have any idea where it leads yet. As we prepare to end 2022 and begin 2023, the only advice I feel qualified to give anyone who wants to pursue something as crazy as I did, is to never be afraid to bet on yourself. Trust your gut, and trust that the universe is going to get you where you need to go. Any of you who follow me are quite aware, it has not been all sunshine and rainbows out here – mental breakdowns, failures, mistakes…they happen on a weekly basis no matter how much I prepare, how hard I work, or how much I avoid trouble.
It is just a part of the ride. I touched on this subject in one of my more recent YouTube episodes, and I will hammer the point home now once again – time is irreplaceable. If you are going to take a chance, do it while you can and don’t have that regret later. So what if it doesn’t work out? So what if you fall on your face? You get back up, dust yourself off, and move on. You have one life, one round of being here to make your own. Don’t waste it worried about what other people think or stay complacent because others have expectations of you. The only person you owe anything to…is you. And if you want to chase your stars, you better get out there and start running, because time doesn’t slow down for any of us.
Remember, that the world is yours for the taking. Take it. Don’t apologize. And be proud of who you are.
If you need me, I’ll be out here.
Until next time. Live wild. Ride free.